NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Rai anti-PAD protest moves to join Chiang Mai event

Chiang Mai Police arrest French boxer for shoplifting

Anti-government protesters deliver ducks to Interior Minister Chalerm

Administration of CM bus terminals to be transferred to Municipality

Crackdown on betting on Euro 2008 matches

Border security to be increased in Mae Hong Son

Popular new law allows women to retain “Miss” after marriage

6 million baht drugs haul intercepted at Mae Sai parcels office

Political delicatessen? Fine food and verbal morsels, televised, feed Samak conflict of interest concerns

Mayor prepares for dissolution of Municipality council

Mae Hong Son to check Karenni Kayan before regulating their residency

 

Chiang Rai anti-PAD protest moves to join Chiang Mai event

Replicas of the 5 PAD leaders set on fire in protest

An anti-PAD rally was held last Saturday afternoon at the Thapae Gate grounds, having been joined at the last minute by the Chiang Rai Anti-Alliance group, who had been planning to hold a rally of their own in their home city.
At 4 pm, core leaders of the Chiang Mai group mounted the stage and began strong speeches condemning the People’s Alliance for Democracy, telling them to end their protests in Bangkok as further continuance would threaten to destroy the Thai economy, the democratic process, the image of the country and the entire system of government. Complaints were made by members of the public about the congestion and traffic chaos caused by the rally and its participants.
During the rally, replicas of the five leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy were set on fire as a protest, supported by both the Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai contingents. The general Chiang Mai public seemed to be in disagreement with both the rival parties and the protests, and are asking the protagonists to end their conflicts. The Thai government is also being requested to concentrate their efforts on solving the country’s problems such as the rising cost of fuel and food, and the threatening recession, rather than on amending the 2007 constitution. However, a previous Anti-People’s Alliance for Democracy protest held in Chiang Rai had called for support of the amendment of the 2007 constitution, and had pointed out that the PAD’s Bangkok protests had caused political unrest and economic uncertainty.

 

Chiang Mai Police arrest French boxer for shoplifting

7-11 employees make “citizens’ arrest”

Police question Matel at Chiang Mai Municipal Police Station.

After receiving a report that a foreign national had been seen shoplifting from a Loi Khro 7-11 store, police arrived at the location to find store staff and members of the public had apprehended the thief. Identified as Fredrik Matel, 31, a rising Thai boxing star at a training camp in Chiang Mai, he had been attempting to steal food and chocolate. The attempt had been spotted on the store’s CCTV by an employee, Nattapong Sawang, who had raised the alarm. On being questioned by police officers after his arrest, Matel admitted the attempted theft, saying that after he had spent all his money on drink, he had felt very hungry and had decided to steal some food. Although he told police that a fight had been arranged for him in Uttaradit several days later, he remains in custody, having been charged with the theft.


Anti-government protesters deliver ducks to Interior Minister Chalerm

No answers to public concerns

Delivering the Thai equivalent to a western ‘very rude noise’, a group of anti-government protesters released two ducks in front of the offices of Thailand’s Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung Thursday as an ultimate gesture of disregard.
The ducks represented a Thai metaphor for a “Jack of all trades, and master of none”, referring to Chalerm’s mediocre performance in government. Earlier in the day the People’s Alliance for Democracy coordinator Suriyasai Katasila led some 200 protesters to the office of the Attorney General where he submitted a petition to the deputy chief Thaworn Phanitphan, calling on the agency to quickly proceed with the wrongdoing and power-abuse charges against former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. The PAD protesters also urged all officials of the agency to be sensitive to possible conflicts of interest by not accepting positions on the executive boards of any state firms or other government agencies.
After the petition was presented, they carried the pair of live ducks to the Interior Ministry, barely a kilometre away, and released them, thus expressing their anger at what they called the interior minister’s “appalling vanity” in claiming to have answers for complicated problems “that he knows nothing about”. The protesters demanded that Chalerm address the public’s concerns rather than just talking politics. Suriyasai stressed that Chalerm had been unsuccessful in resolving the violence in the southernmost provinces.
Chalerm himself declined to meet with the protesters, but stated later that he may file defamation lawsuits against the protest’s ringleaders, who, he believed, had made harsh accusations against him during their anti-government protests. He said he had not ruled out the possibility of a third party triggering some kind of violence during the protest, which, he added, might only end when a particular political party, which had instigated the protest from behind the scenes, eventually backed off. (TNA)


Administration of CM bus terminals to be transferred to Municipality

Majority of revenues to go to Municipality

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Chiang Mai Land Transport Office is planning to transfer the administration and management of Chiang Mai’s two bus stations, Arcade and Chang Puak, to the Chiang Mai Municipality effective October 1. Charnchai Kilapaeng, head of the Chiang Mai Land Transport Office, stated recently that, according to local administrative law, the maintenance of central organizations located in local administrative areas should be transferred to the local administration. The official handover will be held at the end of September this year. From that date the Transport Office will only be responsible for two overseeing officials. Taxes, proceeds from parking fees, passenger tickets and the sale of goods and food, will be remitted to the Municipality; the Land Transport Office will only retain the bus tax.

“How much longer do we have to wait for this bus?”


Crackdown on betting on Euro 2008 matches

Gambling revenues increase as inflation soars

Football-mad Thais in big cities such as Chiang Mai were expected to bet more than 10 million baht per match during the three-week Euro 2008 football tournament which began last Saturday and ends on June 29, in the hope of winning some extra money as inflation soars and the Thai economy sags.

Viboon Sa-nguanphong, Governor of Chiang Mai, stressed locals’ interest in the tournament.
As a result, city authorities both in Chiang Mai and elsewhere have mounted a crackdown on betting, and local police have been ordered to keep a close watch on areas known for heavy gambling. Police chiefs have been warned that, if it is found that their instructions have been ignored, they will be punished.
The Kasikorn Research Centre noted that “the rising cost of living directly affects the amount of money spent gambling, and is at present increasing as people hope that they will win large amounts to supplement their income” Thai government officials are also being warned not to bet on the football tournament - football being a national passion - while members of the public queued to buy post cards from post offices nationwide, intending to win prizes.
The Governor of Phitchit province in Thailand’s north, Preecha Ruangchan, said that both legal and disciplinary action would be taken against government officials who place bets or otherwise get involved in Euro 2008, and announced that police in the province would be regularly inspecting hostels and rented houses with an aim to suppress betting among youths. Many Phichit residents were seen early Saturday morning lined up at post offices to buy postcards involving a type of lottery in which predictions can be made as to which of the 16 participating teams in the 23-day football tournament will win the prestigious cup. Winners will receive monetary prizes. Local postal authorities anticipate sales of some 100,000 postcards, whilst the Chiang Rai post office predicts that it will sell 1.8 million postcards.
In the southern district of Hat Yai, near the border with Malaysia, a special police task force has been set up with the objective of wiping out Euro 2008 bookmakers and betters, especially at malls, entertainment venues and internet stores.


Border security to be increased in Mae Hong Son

Inspection reveals severe shortcomings

Soldiers and members of the public at a Thai/Myanmar
border checkpoint in Mae Hong Son Province.

Saksit Meesubkwang
Following reports of increased drug trafficking in the last month along the Thailand/Burma border in Mae Hong Son, high-ranking officers from Region 5 Police and the Narcotics Suppression Bureau recently carried out an inspection of the 24 hour border posts in the area. Findings included a lack of properly trained personnel to maintain the checkpoints on a 24 hour basis, too few x-ray machines and other essential detection equipment, and a lack of supervision by local provincial commissioners and superintendents; the implication being that smugglers of narcotics and other contraband would be targeting the Mae Hong Son area, aware that their activities would not be interrupted.
As a result, extra equipment will be provided to all checkpoints by the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, CCTV will be installed, and the number of trained officers will be increased. All units, including the Royal Thai Army, the border police, local volunteers and informers, involved in the border areas will be ordered to cooperate with each other and to work according to an integrated anti-narcotics strategy.
The Commander of the 7th Independent Infantry Regiment stationed along the border reported that his command also protects against illegal deforestation, people smuggling and the detection of fake documents, immigration cards and ID cards, of which a large number are now being produced. It is believed that the forgers are becoming active in local politics, in order to protect themselves from arrest.


Popular new law allows women to retain “Miss” after marriage

“Employers discriminate against married women”

The first day of a new law allowing women to remain “Miss” after marriage saw over 1,000 women applying for the title. Uaychai Innak, director of the Bureau of Registration told reporters that, following the Female Title Act 2008 which came into effect last Wednesday, over 1,000 women had already applied for the entitlement of “Miss”.
Out of 852 women across the nation who were getting married last Wednesday, 341 women applied for the title of “Miss”. 657 women who were already married immediately applied to change their “Mrs” title into “Miss”. The new law has been welcomed with great enthusiasm as it gives more freedom to married women. “I feel better with the title of “Miss”, especially when applying for jobs. Employers usually discriminate against married women as they may be burdened with children,” said Phufa Juiputtha. (TNA)


6 million baht drugs haul intercepted at Mae Sai parcels office

Police present the 6 million baht drugs haul which
was intercepted at Mae Sai parcels office.

Following a report of possibly illegal substances being sent by mail from Mae Sai, a customs drug suppression team was ordered from Chiang Rai to a local parcels office, where they were shown two suspicious-looking parcels. On being x-rayed and examined, the parcels were found to contain 20,000 amphetamine pills and 5,000 fake Viagra pills, worth approximately 6 million baht. The drugs were being sent from Mae Sai to Bangbuathong, Nonthaburi province. The sender’s name was Jira, and the parcels were addressed to Somya Rattanskornsiri. Police are continuing their investigations.


Political delicatessen? Fine food and verbal morsels, televised, feed Samak conflict of interest concerns

Twenty-nine senators filed a petition on Friday calling on the Constitution Court to judge whether or not Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej may have violated the law for his televised culinary arts and commentary programmes. Spicy food, hearty main courses and assorted cruditÚs may be just fine delivered a la carte by an otherwise unemployed political figure, but when the chef is the prime minister does it become politically incorrect?
The senators submitted their petition against the premier through Senate Speaker Prasopsuk Boondej who may forward it to the Constitution Court in due course. They suggested that the Constitution Court should probe the matter by itself and alleged that Samak may have violated the constitution’s article 267 which prohibits members of a cabinet including the premier from conducting or being hired to run any profit-taking businesses including TV programming. The prime minister might be impeached and lose the premiership should the Constitution Court find him guilty as charged.
Mr. Samak had earlier featured in the famous Bangkok cooking show engagingly entitled “Tasting and Grumbling” as well as a six o’clock evening news commentary on TV Channels 3 and 5. (TNA)


Mayor prepares for dissolution of Municipality council

“Independent operations”, lack of cooperation, solidarity and unity

Municipal councillors and members of previous Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn’s Chiang Mai Khunatham supporters’ group at their meeting last week.

Saksit Meesubkwang
A press conference was held on June 1 at the Chiang Mai Phucome Hotel by Chiang Municipality councillors, at which dissatisfaction was expressed concerning the Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai’s plans to dissolve the recently elected Municipal Council.
The Mayor had previously announced the expected dissolution to local media, citing as her reasons the council’s “independent operations”, and their inability and lack of co-operation, solidarity and unity in approving her fiscal year 2008 development budget.
Attendant at the press conference were the 24 elected councillors, plus most of the former members of the previous Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn’s council and members of his Chiang Mai Khunatham group of supporters. Boonlert was recently elected to the Presidency of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organisation, and almost immediately received a “red card” from the Chiang Mai Election Commission which forced his resignation.
During the press conference, Potchanart Sriyarun, a local councillor, claimed that, during the Mayor’s eight months in office, she had not addressed the concerns of the duly elected Municipal councillors. He assured local media representatives that council members had performed their duties regarding the city’s annual budget in the correct manner with diligence and economy, in spite of a lack of communication from the Mayor’s office, and stated that council members had not opposed the Mayor’s administration work. Potchanart also stated that the Mayor herself had no authority to dissolve the council; this action can only be taken by the Thai Ministry of the Interior.
Pathee Chainilaphan, a local Wat Ketkaram community head, expressed her disapproval of the Mayor’s “lack of solidarity and access to residents’ problems, which should be promptly solved before they escalate and spread”.


Mae Hong Son to check Karenni Kayan before regulating their residency

UNHCR is invited to participate

Thongchai Wongrianthong, the governor of Mae Hong Son, in his capacity as director of the Burmese Border Operations Centre, has appointed a Kayan (Karenni) Registration Committee to oversee the checking of members of the Kayan sub-tribe of the Karenni nation who are at present living at the “tourist village” of Ban Huay Sua Tao and at the holding camps, Ban Huay Pu Kaeng, and Pang Mau, in Mae Hong Son. 124 households comprised of approximately 550 Kayan are resident in the village and the holding camps; 104 of the women wear the traditional bronze rings around their necks. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, (who have already shown concern for the human rights of the Kayan people and who again recommended a tourism boycott of the Kayan villages in January this year), has also been invited to join the committee. The Thai Ministry of the Interior and the authorities of Mae Hong Son Province are responsible for the holding camp at Pang Muu, Mae Hong Son, at present containing 19,776 refugees from the violence in Burma.
During a recent monthly update of its registers, Mae Hong Son authorities found that a number of Kayan people were not living at the refugee camp and therefore had not had their status as refugees updated. This affected the authorities’ statistics and made background checks and the administration of humanitarian relief difficult.
The Mae Hong Son governor stated that it was necessary to check all registration particulars, and that, if an individual is in fact a refugee, he/she should be living at the camp itself in order to receive assistance and protection under the law. If an individual is not a refugee, then he/she will be held in an illegal immigrant holding centre. A process of relocation of all Kayan refugees to holding and refugee camps has been underway for some time, with authorities stating “security reasons” as justification.
Dialogues between the UNHCR and the Mae Hong Son authorities have continued for some years, and have focused on human rights issues.